Montreal

Family Resource Centre in Pierrefonds 'desperate' for donations as federal funding ends

A West Island organization that helps children with challenging behaviours and their families learn new strategies to resolve conflicts is looking for donations before it runs out of money by year's end.

West Island organization helps children with behavioural issues and their families learn new strategies

The centre's flagship 13-week program SNAP, which stands for Stop Now and Plan, uses a cognitive behavioural therapeutic approach to help troubled children and their parents learn how to effectively manage their emotions. (CBC)

A West Island organization that helps children with challenging behaviours and their families work through crises and learn new strategies to resolve conflicts is looking for donations before it runs out of money by the end of the year.

The Family Resource Centre, a non-governmental agency, has relied on core funding through the federal Public Safety Department's crime prevention strategy — but that funding expired on Oct. 14.

"We're desperate," said the centre's executive director, Ron Swan. He said there are 70 families on a waiting list to get access to the centre's services, as well as hundreds of families already relying on the centre's resources.

'Things could have escalated,' said Alex Gardner, a father of two, about the struggles he and his family had before participating in the Family Resource Centre's SNAP program. Since he and his family took part in the program they have all grown closer, he said. (Sean Henry/CBC)

The centre's flagship 13-week program SNAP, which stands for Stop Now and Plan, uses a cognitive behavioural therapeutic approach to help troubled children and their parents learn how to effectively manage their emotions. 

Alex Gardner, a father of two, said since he and his family took part in the program, they have all grown closer.

"I saw improvement from day one," Gardner said. "It helps [our children] grow as people, and us, as parents."

"Things could have escalated," said Gardner, whose children are seven and 10.

"The SNAP program helped us learn how to communicate with our children so they could actually hear what we were saying, and we were able to understand what they were feeling."

After the 13-week program, the centre offers continuing support.

"Unless they have that support beyond just the 13 weeks we offer the program itself, these families are really left in a lurch," Swan said. 

Ron Swan, the executive director of the Family Resource Centre in Pierrefonds, says there are 70 families on the waiting list to access the centre's services. (Sean Henry/CBC)

Gardner agrees that continuing support is crucial to help build on what they have learned, because "it all kind of compounds on top of each other."

Schools rely on centre, too

The centre works with both the Lester B. Pearson and Marguerite Bourgeoys school boards to identify families in need.

Douglas Stewart, the principal of Terry Fox Elementary School, says if the program closes, schools like his will struggle to find ways to help families in crisis.

"I'm not sure what we're going to do," he said.

"I think we're really going to be struggling, especially in an age where we're so concerned with aggression, conflict in our schools, bullying — we need some proactive measures to address these issues."

 

With files from CBC's Sean Henry

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